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A Pastoral Perfect Picnic

A Pastoral Perfect Picnic

It finally feels like summer in Chicago has arrived! Okay so it’s been a pretty rainy start to the season, but I’ll take humidity and big hair over puffy coats and snow any day. One of my favorite things that comes along with summer is eating al fresco. I don’t care if it’s on a patio, porch, or plopped down in the grass, if I’m eating outdoors I’m a happy camper. As soon as the city got sunny, my favorite cheese shop in Chicago, Pastoral Artisan Cheese Bread and Wine reached out to me about their fabulous picnic basket offerings. Pastoral’s picnic professionals have come up with six different basket options that make hitting up movies in the park or an outdoor concert at Ravinia as easy as pie!

Taste of the Midwest Picnic $39.99- Serves 2 Creamy and slightly funky Aged Widmer’s Brick (WI – cow), fruity and mild Chandoka (WI – cow/goat), lightly salted Amish butter (OH – cow), Borsellino salami (IA - pork), hearty summer sausage from Underground Meats (WI – beef/pork), shallot confit and dried Michigan cherries, house made spiced almonds and grainy mustard

I was so impressed by how well all the different cheese, meat and accoutrements went together in this basket. The salami was a little bit spicy and went super well with the creamy brick cheese and dried sweet and tart Michigan cherries. I loved popping in the cherries into a mouthful of the house made spiced almonds. The Amish butter was so creamy and fresh and had the perfect amount of salt to it; I spread it on a piece of baguette and drizzled it with a bit of honey and it was divine! The portion was also quite large for just two of us, don’t worry Taste Tester #1 made sure none of the leftovers went to waste!

Five other picnic baskets are also available and all of them come with a huge bag of sliced French bread!

The Picnic Royale $99.99- Serves up to 4 Earthy, nutty Pleasant Ridge Reserve (WI – raw cow), cakey and decadent Manchester (MI – cow), creamy Morbier-style Jeune Autize (FR – goat), smooth and lemony Driftless (WI – sheep), sweet Tamworth prosciutto (IA - pork), single-varietal Ames Honey, light and crisp Rustic Bakery Panforte, country olives, and individual Chocopods in surprising flavors (CA)

The Grand Picnic $69.99- Serves 2 Smooth and earthy Prosciutto San Daniele (IT - pork), Dodge City Salame from Smoking Goose Meatery (IN - pork), buttery St. Malachi (PA – cow), rich and fluffy Miette (MO – goat, sheep), classic Alpine-style Spring Brook Raclette (VT – raw cow), sweet and salty Effie’s Mini Oatcakes (MA), house made Spiced Almonds and a duo of handmade truffles from Katherine Anne Confections (IL)

Decadent Picnic $39.99- Serves 2 Fluffy and decadent Manchester (MI – cow), rich and grassy Brabander gouda (NL – goat), savory and complex Hittisau (AT – raw cow), cocoa dusted Piedras (ES), small batch raspberry and rose preserves (WI), handmade caramels from Katherine Anne Confections (IL) and soft and delicious Pastoral house made cookies

Francophile Picnic $39.99- Serves 2 Creamy Cantal ‘Entre Deux’ (FR – raw cow), fluffy and fresh Driftless (WI – sheep), decadent Brillat Savarin triple crème brie (FR – cow), sweet, rich Rosette de Lyon saucisson (NY - pork), small-batch fig and black tea preserves (WI), Niçoise and Picholine olives, cornichons and grainy mustard

Carnivore’s Feast Picnic $39.99- Serves 2 Country style Pig and Fig Terrine (IN - pork), spicy Calabrese salami (UT – pork), intense and rich Jamon Serrano, savory Mortadella (IN – pork), zesty house made pimento cheese featuring two sharp cheddars (cow), corni-chons, pickled vegetables and grainy mustard

I’d really like to try several other of the picnic baskets and in my opinion, $40 is a great value for the combination of high quality ingredients and the large portion of food that comes in your basket. If we were smaller eaters we could have even stretched the basket into two different picnics! If you’re planning any outdoor eating this year, make your life easier (and tastier) by picking up a Pastoral Picnic Basket, I promise you won’t regret it! Best of all, Pastoral's Picnic Baskets are actually available year-round!

While Pastoral provided me with a picnic basket, all opinions are my own

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